On October 4, 2022, a ROK lawmaker stated that the F-35A fighter aircraft operated by the Korean Air Force (RoKAF) was labelled as operationally unavailable 234 times over the last 18 months to last June due to malfunctions.
Rep. Shin Won-sik of the ruling People's Power Party presented RoKAF data to show the problems the F-35 faces in its efforts to become fully operational. He mentioned that this fifth-generation fighter jet was grounded 172 times during that time period. He also noted 62 cases where the F-35A could fly but could not complete specific missions.
Shin disclosed the information, highlighting the need for the ROK military to put forth significant efforts in introducing and maintaining weaponry.
In contrast, over 18 months, older generation F-4E and F-5 aircraft were grounded 26 and 28 times, respectively.
However, the RoKAF states that the F-35A achieves an operating rate of 75%. This indicates that maintaining a readiness posture is not a problem. On the other hand, RoKAF acknowledged the difficulty of getting spare parts related to defects in the newly launched models.
Previously the issue of F-35A readiness was also highlighted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). By February 2022, official records indicated that Australian F-35A fighters would spend less time in the air than previously thought. The F-35 was in the design stage when Australia agreed in 2002 to order up to 100 aircraft.
On the other hand, US Air Force decided to balance F-35s high maintenance costs by flying 4th generation fighters more.